The Cosmic Evolution of the Subjective Horizon
Now, the first thing that strikes me about this book is how similar it is to what Teilhard de Chardin was attempting (not to mention Sri Aurobindo) at roughly the same time, but which did not see the light of day until after his death in 1955.
Although both men present a sweeping vision of cosmic evolution within a Catholic context, I would say that Teilhard was much more the ecstatic mystic, while DeKoninck is more the sober metaphysician (which provokes its own kind of ecstasy, or perhaps instasy). Scientistic nerds are unable to "get" Teilhard, being that they are so deaf to his more poetic, visionary, and noetic style. Nor, for that matter, would they be able to appreciate DeKoninck, since they are committed to a metaphysic that is so juvenile.
The Bible itself is also a closed book to these Vulgans, being that the typical Mister Crock tends to take the figurative as literal and literal as figurative. This is what happens when one is not anchored in the substance of truth itself, for it is truth that is being conveyed in scripture, whether literally or figuratively, it doesn't matter.
DeKoninck certainly had no problem whatsoever with evolution. The following sounds like it could have been written by Teilhard: "the physical universe... serves for a higher end that it approaches by losing its initial state of organization. The universe unpacks its matter with a view to higher construction. While the physicist observes in the physical world a greater and greater disorganization and diffusion, the biologist encounters living islands heading toward a more and more elevated organization, toward more intense concentration. Life seems to progress against the grain and at the expense of the current of degradation that carries the physical world toward extinction...."
The irony, of course, is that only a religious person is permitted to believe in evolution in its literal sense, which means to unfold, change, and develop in a certain direction. Make no mistake: in a godless universe, evolution would be strictly impossible. Rather, there could only be pure change, or absolute relativity. As you have no doubt noticed, no metaphysical Darwinians actually have the courage of their lack of convictions to see their first principles through to their grisly conclusion. Suffice it to say that anyone who believes otherwise hasn't thought things through. Just watch.
On the other side of that worthless coin are the occasionalists, who are much more Muslim than Christian, being that they have no idea how the Creator actually gets things done down here. Suffice it to say that while he may have counted all the hairs on your head, he doesn't have time to actually grow them for you.
Let's put it this way: to say "progress" is to say "God," for the very word implies a standard of truth, or beauty, or moral excellence, a standard which cannot exist in the absence of the absolute. Remove the absolute, then truly, nothing is any better or more true than anything else. This is a hierarchical cosmos. Deal with it.
Teilhard talked about "radial" vs. "tangential" energy, the latter being the entropic tendency of the cosmos, the former its negentropic tendency. The negentropic tendency has to do with information, complexification, linking, mind, and interior, while the entropic arrow implies the opposite. In fact, you could simply call them "mind and matter" (the latter in its Thomistic sense of prime matter, or pure unformed potential). In Hindu metaphysics these two categories are called purusha and prakriti, while in Coonspeak we unname them O and Ø or ♀ and ♂.
In turn, this fundamental complementarity of our cosmos is reflected in the irreducible categories of subject/object, form/substance, wave/particle, knower/known, individual/collective, part/whole, time/eternity, Lennon/McCartney, etc. The dynamic play of these complementarities is directional, and "evolution" is what we call the unfolding process that takes place in the space between them.
This is how and why a supposedly lifeless (we cannot say "dead") cosmos results in all this marvelous truth, beauty, complexity, and interiority. As DeKoninck writes, "the biological world shows us an always growing concentration. Its movement is centripetal, arriving at a state of high organization and immanence. Life goes against time's dispersion. Time disperses, life gathers, tending toward structures that are more and more tight. It is a kind of triumph over the scattering of time."
Indeed. "Life goes against time's dispersion." And I am the life. Nudge nudge, wink wink.
I also see parallels here with the philosopher of biology, Hans Jonas, and his ideas about the evolution of freedom, another property that is strictly impossible in the absence of God. If you disagree with me, please go away and think about it some more, because what you are really saying is that freedom is an illusion, so there is no need for us to take you seriously.
DeKoninck writes that "there is in living things an always growing spontaneity which in man arrives at true freedom... Every moment I use my freedom is something absolutely new in the universe. Thus one can say that the more a living being is free, the more he escapes the reach of experimental science." The merest act of free will makes us fugitives from the laws of physics. Higher non-doodling truly is the gateway to Slack.
Compare with Jonas:
"[I]t is in the dark stirrings of primeval organic substance that a principle of freedom shines forth for the first time within the vast necessity of the physical universe -- a principle foreign to suns, planets, and atoms.... the first appearance of this principle in its bare, elementary object-form signifies the break-through of being to the indefinite range of possibilities which hence stretches to the farthest reaches of subjective life, and as a whole stands under the sign of 'freedom'.... even the transition from inanimate to animate substance, the first feat of matter's organizing itself for life, was actuated by a tendency in the depth of being toward the very modes of freedom to which this transition opened the gate."
But already the simple observed facts sketch an image of nature which advances by successive explosions in the manner of a rocket... from the hands of its Creator [comes] the spiritual form of man to which nature has been destined and in which she is liberated. In this new order, evolution is pursued always in the very interior of humanity. Moreover, evolution which continues in humanity has taken on a different color.... We find ourselves from now on on a spiritual plane where plasticity is infinitely greater... --Charles DeKoninck